For the second-straight year and third time in four seasons, the Golden State Warriors are NBA Champions after defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers 108-85 in Game 4 of the 2018 Finals on Friday night. Golden State jumped out to a big early lead and never trailed by more than a single point throughout the contest on their way to completing the four-game sweep. Stephen Curry got off to a hot start, scoring 20 points of his game-high 37 points in the first half, while Kevin Durant recorded a triple-double before being named the 2018 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player. In winning the 2018 title, Golden State joins the Chicago Bulls (6) for the third-most championships in NBA history behind the Boston Celtics (17) and the Los Angeles Lakers (16).
CLOSING IT OUT IN STYLE
Needing just one more victory to clinch their second consecutive Championship, Golden State came out of the gates playing with a killer instinct. After JR Smith followed Curry’s game-opening score with a three-pointer, the Warriors reeled off an 11-0 run to take their first of four double-digit leads in the first quarter. Curry and Durant combined for 20 points in the opening frame, which came to a close with Golden State up 34-25. They’d add another 12 points in the second, as Curry’s three-pointer with 5.0 seconds remaining sent the Dubs into halftime holding a 61-52 advantage.
Cleveland held a one-point advantage on three occasions in that second quarter, but the third of those would prove to be their final lead of the night as Golden State ran away with the game in the second half. After being held scoreless in the first half, Klay Thompson broke free for 10 points in the third frame, over the course of which the Warriors outscored the Cavs by a 25-13 margin. With victory in their grasps, Golden State kept their foot on the gas pedal in the fourth quarter, eliminating any last hopes of a Cleveland comeback. The Warriors limited the Cavaliers to just 33 points over the final two quarters, coasting the final minutes to their third NBA Championship in four years.
With the win, the Warriors improved to 328-83 (.798) over the last four seasons (regular season and playoffs). That's the best four-year winning percentage in NBA history, beating out the stretch the Warriors had from 2014-17.
DURANT CLAIMS FINALS MVP
Not only did the Warriors secure back-to-back titles, they also had the same player named Finals MVP both times. Kevin Durant picked up where he left off in Game 3, putting together an all-around performance worthy of Most Valuable Player. In addition to his 20 points, he added 12 rebounds and 10 assists in Game 4 for his first career playoff triple-double. Factoring in his Game 4 performance, Durant averaged 28.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 7.5 assists and 2.3 blocks per game in the series on 52.6 percent shooting from the field and 40.9 percent from three-point range.
In winning the award, Durant becomes the sixth player in NBA history to win back-to-back Finals MVPs, joining LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon. Additionally, he joins Jordan as the only two players in league history to win four scoring titles and multiple Finals MVPs.
CURRY CAPS STRONG SERIES
While Durant was ultimately named Finals MVP, Curry certainly gave him a run for his money. He scored 20 of his game-high 37 points in the first half, tied for the most he’s scored in a first half in his Finals career. He’d finish the game 7-of-15 from three-point range, upping his series total to 22 makes from beyond the arc. For the series, he averaged 27.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game on 40.2 percent shooting from the field and 41.5 percent from three-point range.
With Golden State’s victory, Curry becomes the eight player in NBA history with three titles and multiple MVPs, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Tim Duncan.
THIRD STRIKES AGAIN
Perhaps it’s only fitting that Golden State put Cleveland away with yet another dominant third quarter. The Warriors outscored the Cavs 25-13 in the third frame to build a 21-point advantage heading into the fourth. Factoring in that 12-point margin, Golden State outscored their playoff opponents by 153 points in the third quarter, the largest point differential in a single playoff quarter in the Shot-Clock Era (since 1954-55). Including the regular season, the Warriors outscored their opponents by 524 points in the third quarter, also a league record.